Mike Conroy died unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm on June 17, 2013. Those of us who counted him as a friend and a colleague over his lifetime, and we are countless in number, were shocked at his sudden passing. The feeling of emptiness remains. To do a small measure of justice to his memory, a recounting of his life is appropriate to share here with the members of our Association.
Mike lived almost his entire life in Bethesda. He attended Little Flower Catholic Elementary School where he remained a parishioner until his death. He graduated from St. John’s College High School and then went on to matriculate at that obscure school located in South Bend, Indiana, known as Notre Dame. There was no bigger fan of his alma mater than Mike Conroy, even eclipsing some alumni who serve on the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. Mike served in the U.S. Army reserves for six years and graduated from Georgetown University Law School and was known for his almost singular feeling that he actually enjoyed attending law school.
Mike had a built-in career as an attorney since his father, John M. Conroy, had been practicing law for decades in suburban Maryland when Mike joined Conroy & Williams in 1972 upon passing the bar exam. Notwithstanding that successful underpinning, Mike later chose to join the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office in 1976 and spent three years honing his trial skills with other young assistants under then Public Defender, J. James McKenna. Circuit Court Judges Nelson W. Rupp, Jr., and Mary Beth McCormick, Paul Kemp, and Michael “Tad” Nalls share memories of those years with Mike as well.
In 1979, Mike returned to the private practice of law in Montgomery County and continued until June, 2006 when he joined the District Court in Montgomery County. Mike’s elevation to the bench was a capstone to a lifelong generosity to his profession and his community. Mike had participated in many legal groups, as well as service, community, and social organizations and was so often chosen to be a leader. Mike served as the president of the Bar Association of Montgomery County in 1994-95. Mike’s generosity of his time and talents later brought him recognition as the president of the Maryland State Bar Association in 2005-06 along with the Leadership in Law Award from the Daily Record.
Mike’s community and civil endeavors also brought him to act as the president of the CYO of Metropolitan Washington, the Congressional Country Club where he was a third generation member, and the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, an Irish-American gathering whose cardinal principles of patriotism and charity Mike strongly espoused. Mike was a long time member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association and served on the Executive Council of the National Conference of Bar Presidents.
It would be unfair in recounting Mike Conroy’s life not to mention his great interest in athletics and his enjoyment of sports. Mike had been a world class rugby player. He played for the Washington Rugby Club and was a member of the United States national team, traveling world-wide playing teams representing other countries. His playing years spanned three decades and he continued to remain fit and competitive in other sports throughout his life. His continued ability to run 5-6 miles at a clip always brought admiration from those of us whose physical limitations in keeping up with him had become more pronounced as we matured.
As the curtain came down on Mike’s life, his last act turned out to be his most generous one, the gift of life to others. Mike was an organ donor and as such there was some confusion as to when his life ended. It took a day and a half for the organ donation procedure to be effected and once the skilled medical personnel in different states and hundreds of miles apart were able to come together, Mike’s lungs were transplanted to recipients in North Carolina, his liver went to a friend of his son in Connecticut, while his kidneys went to local patients here in the Washington area.
Surviving Mike are his son, John, III, and his daughter, Aindrea, a third generation member of our Association. Our heartfelt condolences go to each of them on their loss.
Although his journey is over, Mike’s life epitomizes that good men die, but death cannot kill their good names.